9.3.- 20.4. 2002
Sophie Calle “The Gotham Handbook”
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

Sophie Calle (F) “The Gotham Handbook”, installation view at Arndt & Partner, Berlin, 2002 Sophie Calle (F) “The Gotham Handbook”, installation view at Arndt & Partner, Berlin, 2002

“Gotham Handbook” is a reflection of the complex relationship between Sophie Calle and the New York novelist Paul Auster. In his 1992 novel Leviathan, he based the character of Maria upon Sophie Calle‘s life. Adopting some of the idiosyncracies which Auster had invented for the Maria character, Sophie Calle in return asked the author to invent a fictive character which she would attempt to resemble. Since Auster did not wish to take personal responsibility for what might happen to her, he chose instead to write out  „Personal Instructions for S.C. on How to Improve Life in New York City (Because she asked...)“. Following Auster‘s instructions, Calle picked one spot in the city as her own – a telephone box – where she would spend an hour every day, watching everything that happened to it, keeping track of everyone who passed by or stopped. For one week, Calle kept a detailed written and photographic diary of her efforts: counting up the number of smiles she gave and received, the number of people who used her decorated public phone booth, her meaningless conversations with strangers and the food and cigarettes she distributed to people who looked hungry. The result is “Gotham Handbook” – a series of seven framed panels containing texts and photos of every day of the week – reflecting her desire for ritualistic fulfilment and storytelling.
By mingling fact with fiction, “Gotham Handbook”  explores the range and possibilities of human interaction. Demanding the participation of her audience – whether it be the New York citizen or the beholder of "Gotham Handbook", Auster’s directives allow Sophie Calle to question core issues relevant to artistic production and experience.
Sophie Calle, born in Paris in 1953, lives in Malakoff (Paris) and in New York. Her work enjoys widespread international success and was exhibited in institutions, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Furthermore, this year she will be awarded with the international "Spectrum" prize for photography of the Stiftung Niedersachsen.